Review: The Bad Baron’s Daughter by Laura London

bad baron's daughterHeroine: Katie Kendricks’ father has disappeared. He’s done it a time or two before but has never been gone for so long. It wouldn’t be a problem, except his creditors are breathing down Katie’s neck and frightening her. Her plan to reach her friend’s bar, The Merry Maidenhead, in London is met with success… but her plans to stay do not when she upsets a regular brute in the bar who wants to show her a lesson or two.

Hero: Lord Linden is a rake of the first order. He goes from one amusement to the next as the mood strikes him. He is easily bored with the London life, but what gentleman isn’t? Having once worked for the War Office, he recognizes on second look that the barboy is in fact a bargirl and is moved to rescue her from the lowlife attempting to teach her a lesson in the middle of the bar. When the owner of the Merry Maidenhead pimps her out, he’s disgusted at the man but pays him fifty pounds to save the girl from the other brute lined up… the more he learns about the girl, the more he’s certain he’s not good for her, but clearly someone needs to watch out for her as someone wants her dead.

Review: The hero, Lesley Byrne, Lord Linden, has made his way onto my favorite heroes list. He reminds me of Justin Alastair from These Old Shades, who is also one of my favorite heroes. There’s a striking contrast between his elegant ennui and his sincere desire to protect the heroine… even from himself. He wants her desperately, but can’t bring himself to debauch her and take her innocence. He’s frustrated and irritated by these new feelings and can come across cruel, violent, or forgetful, but he’s the opposite underneath his outward shell. That dichotomy is what makes it work for me.

The writing is nearly flawless. There was a time or two when a character would make an observation mentally and another character would also expound on it mentally as if in agreement. I had to reread those passages to see if I had missed something. Overall this was a delightful Regency romp that I wish I had known about sooner! It is well worth getting a hold of this book because I believe you will want to keep it on your favorite’s shelf and revisit often. I know that is what I will be doing.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Bad Baron’s Daughter

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What Keeps the Young Adult Genre Fresh

custom book cover Connie book 2 official ebookGuest post by Connie L. Smith, author of Essenced and Emblazed

Can I part with a little secret here? My first reading love wasn’t YA. It wasn’t even contemporary. The initial genre that snagged my interest was fantasy. Elves, orcs, dwarves… I fell hopelessly when introduced to R.A. Salvatore’s The Dark Elf Trilogy , and I haven’t been able to climb my way out yet.

YA and contemporary came later, but they’ve since given me some of my favorite books. In fact, I probably read more contemporary romance now than just about anything, and I’m a sucker for a YA story done right.

There’s something innocent about YA, even when your story involves demons and warfare, a freshness that I enjoy. When I started thinking about giving The Division Chronicles the opportunity meet paper (or an ebook), it just fit with a high school scene. When Julius shows up to tell AJ that she has a purpose and the world is in danger, it felt right to put the meeting in that kind of setting. She’s just a teenager, dealing with regular teenage things. School, extracurricular activities, friends, and absolutely no previous athletic ability. She’s figuring herself out, and throwing such change and responsibility in her lap when she’s still in that middle ground of cliques and confusion seemed right somehow.

It allowed for so much exploration of character within the pages that I don’t think would’ve been possible if I’d been writing about an army of people later in life. None of the Essenced soldiers are out of their teens yet, and you can see it surface from time to time. They’re just kids, suddenly with the world on their shoulders. Of course they’ll mess up, and you can’t expect anything different, but somehow they manage their way through the struggles and issues with strength they never even knew they had. In fact, those moments of mistake are so meaningful to me – because it highlights over and over again that they’re just teenagers doing the best they can.

I guess that’s something that draws me into the world of YA literature. These characters are learning, and they don’t have their feet on anything close to solid ground as of yet, but they still go. There’s a simplicity there that might not be present in some of the other genres. The characters can be completely unsure. The romances can just be sweet. The shortcomings can be excused more easily because of youth. The characters are learning as they go, and we can almost grade them on a curve because of it.

Of course, this genre comes with its complications as well. I’m turning 29 the week of this blog tour, so I’m not exactly part of the crowd the story is theoretically designed for. I know adults read the genre – I read it! – but to target people of a younger age group can prove a bit of a challenge. Slang, music, television… When you’re nearing 30, these sorts of things aren’t necessarily a typical part of your thought process. To be honest, most of my music was outdated when I was in high school, so now it’s proven a bit of a difficulty. But still, I think the genre – even if it exists just a little out of my cultural realm of knowledge – is worth writing.

I plan to write stories of other categories as well. Right now, I have to finish The Division Chronicles, and I have a YA Romance in need of alterations and edits, but I have fantasy and new adult also in my eventual plans. Lots of things in the future, but my first published piece of fiction will always be YA. And I’m okay with that.

Thanks for reading, and please check out my Twitter page for giveaways through the 28th! Also, book one of this trilogy (Essenced) is scheduled to be free through the blog tour! Remember it’s my birthday week? Call trying my book a gift :)

Book Blurb:

After all the preparations, Nicholai’s warriors stand on the threshold of warfare, the demons entering the realm in battalions and the world unknowingly depending on the army’s success to continue intact. But the battle is only the beginning of deadly struggles, and the soldiers will soon realize how little they know, how many things are at stake, and how much they have to lose.

Love, hate, hope, despair, anguish, joy… The journey is a gauntlet of emotion and combat, threatening their resolve as much as their lives.

Will their training and ties be enough, or will the complications and the forthcoming evil forever cripple the world’s last hope of survival?

Buy: Essenced (The Division Chronicles: Book One)


Book Blurb:

After all the preparations, Nicholai’s warriors stand on the threshold of warfare, the demons entering the realm in battalions and the world unknowingly depending on the army’s success to continue intact. But the battle is only the beginning of deadly struggles, and the soldiers will soon realize how little they know, how many things are at stake, and how much they have to lose.

Love, hate, hope, despair, anguish, joy… The journey is a gauntlet of emotion and combat, threatening their resolve as much as their lives.

Will their training and ties be enough, or will the complications and the forthcoming evil forever cripple the world’s last hope of survival?

Buy: Emblazed (The Division Chronicles: Book Two)


Excerpt:

AJ sensed him there, standing wordlessly some feet in the distance, just like she always recognized his presence when he lingered near. She absorbed the comfort and happiness he brought her – not that she’d admit that out loud – before sighing and speaking. “It’s called making a bed, Julius. It’s pretty commonplace.”

He didn’t push away from the doorframe, instead leaning further against it while he continued to observe her. “Sweetheart, nothing’s commonplace when you do it.”

Hearing the grin and affection in his voice, she smiled, peeking at him over her shoulder. “Is that a compliment or an insult?”

He gazed upward to stare at the ceiling with a thoughtful expression, then returned his attention to her, his shrug carefree. “Both.”

She smirked. “Sweet talker.”

“Odd ball.” He finally moved from the threshold, unhurriedly advancing toward her. “You know, most people make their beds in the morning. Not ten o’clock at night.”

She snorted. “Yeah. I’m gonna make my bed as soon as I roll out of it at six AM. I wouldn’t be making it now if I didn’t have to wrestle the sheet back on four times a night.” Finally setting her pillow in its position, she turned to him with an unashamed grin.

He chuckled, his adoration plain, and brushed a lock of hair from her face. “You’re one of a kind, you know that?”

“Compliment or insult?” she teased again.

“Compliment.” He smiled, cupping her cheek. “Definitely a compliment.”

“Sweet talker,” she repeated, standing on her tiptoes to press a kiss to his lips. Wrapping her arms around his neck, his circling her waist, she dove into the moment, reveling in the wonderful sensations only Julius incited. Safety. Warmth. Passion. So many more she couldn’t quite put a name to, the combination too heady and consuming to adequately decipher. It was simply a Julius effect, and its wonder had no equal in her life. Gradually breaking away, she knowingly lifted an eyebrow. “You didn’t come here just to make fun of me over my bed-making habits.”

“Maybe I came up here just to kiss you.”

“If that were the case, dear Julius, you wouldn’t have waited until I kissed you.”

Narrowing his eyes, he barely restrained his smirk at her forwardness and how well she’d grown to understand him in their time together. “You have a point.” He stepped back from her embrace, grasping her hand in his. “Come on. We have a mission.”

“A mission?” Her brow furrowed, though she made no move to retrieve her palm from his, following him in confusion as he neared the hallway. “At ten o’clock at night?”

“I believe we already covered the time in this conversation, AJ.” He made a clucking noise with his tongue, shaking his head in mock disappointment. “You really need to keep up with matters a bit more.”

She glared at the back of his head, lips thinning despite her vexing boyfriend’s inability to see her from his location. Realizing the futility of her frustrated efforts, she clenched the fingers he clutched, smiling in accomplishment at his grunt of discomfort. “Yeah, we covered it, but in household chore way. Not in a mission way. What could we possibly have to do this late at night?”

He sent her an amused glance – one she deemed condescending, particularly after the physical hint of her annoyance  – while tugging her through the doorway. “You do realize it isn’t ten o’clock everywhere, right?”

“Of course I realize that! I’m not a moron!”

“I never said you were…”

She growled, steeling her feet against the floor and prying her hand from his. “You didn’t have to. Your little grin said it all for you.”

His stare revealed sincere bewilderment – maybe a speck of frustration as well – and his arm dropped to his side. “So let me get this straight. You’re angry at me… because I smiled at you?”

Her eyes widened in fury, one finger raising to point at his chest while her left fist braced against her hip. “Don’t try to turn this around like I’m crazy!”

He scrunched his forehead, gaze traveling up and down her form while he held his hands out, as if silently offering his evidence.

She groaned, unhappy, turning away from him to rein in her irritation. For several seconds, she simply scanned her room, livid exhale after livid exhale falling from her lips, but the attempts did little to calm her turmoil, Julius actually flinching when her focus again landed on him. “It’s the grin you used. It’s the same one that was on your face when you drove into New Mexico, and I was surprised the facility was stationed here. Like I’m the dumbest person in the world and your number one source of entertainment.”

Instantly, his expression softened. “You can’t possibly think that I think that way?”

She just glared at him.

“Look, I’m not gonna lie.” He approached her, smiling tenderly. “You do amuse me, but not because I think you’re stupid. You’re… animated. And quirky. But not stupid. And I get it’s late, and no matter what time zone we’re entering, it’s ten o’clock here and we’re handing over sleeping hours, but Nicholai insists we need to go now.”

She kept pinched eyes on him, but her posture loosened a bit.

He laughed, reaching for her hand once more. “See? Animated. I can pretty much watch the wheels in your head turn.”

“Does that make you my mental stalker, too?”

Processing the playful edge of her words, he kissed her knuckles and led her into the hall. “Trust me, sweetheart. I have no desire to wander through your mind. I can’t imagine all the weird things I’d encounter.”

She tilted her head to the side, smiling. “Compliment or insult?”

Smirking over his shoulder, he caught her eyes with his. “Insult.”

Buy: Essenced (The Division Chronicles: Book One), Emblazed (The Division Chronicles: Book Two)

Review: Dark Passages by Sara Reinke

by Sandra Scholes, guest reviewer

As each volume of the Brethren series of novels has concentrated on a certain couple whether it be Brandon and Angelina, or Rene and Tessa, this one concerns Tristan and Karen. Their relationship is hardly an ideal one even though the both of them do love each other a great deal; it is mostly about how they relate to each other in this novel.  They aren’t supposed to be together, and he has issues of his own to deal with –  as his own sexual drive encourages his vampiric lust to surface, and if anything, he doesn’t want to kill her.

It takes a while to pick the story up from the previous novel in the series, but a lot more is found out about Brandon, so it is of interest to fans of the character. There are some aspects of comedy in this with Brandon that Sara addresses well in her dialogue with Tristan. He has a shyness and innocence that can sometimes make the reader forget he’s supposed to be a vampire, and a very strong one at that. As his personal physician, Tristan is trusted enough to help Brandon in every aspect of his body, and one that constantly baffles him is the suppression of his vampire instincts and lusts for blood. As he has grown up around humans, and likes their influence, he doesn’t want to feed from them or use them as his clan has done in the past, so he sees using a certain drug as a form of protection from letting himself become the evil side he likes to keep hidden.

The rest of the story deals with Tristan’s relationship with Karen and how rocky it has been from the second chapter. Karen thinks he is brushing her off after making-love to her one night, but in fact he is trying to protect her from his own blood lust. He feels if he cannot control this side of him, like Brandon, he thinks he risks a part of his own humanity.

Karen was the only outsider of the Morin family who was allowed to know they were vampires, but unlike the Brethren, they did not feed on humans. It explains why Tristan is his physician. He has been helping Brandon with his problems over the past few months after leaving his father’s home, and the angry Brethren with his blessing.

Be prepared for heartache, rich drama, and a lot of blood lust in this one – and to be honest, Sara couldn’t let any vampire get away without feeling some kind of torment; it just wouldn’t be right.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Dark Passages: Tristan & Karen (The Brethren Series)

Review: When Strangers Marry by Lisa Kleypas

bookreview

The more I read of Lisa Kleypas the more I want to read. When Strangers Marry was a sinful delight to sit down and read. I enjoyed every moment thoroughly. If you’re looking for some scintillating sex scenes, I would book right over your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy. Some of the bedroom interactions are enough to singe your eyebrows off. I’d tell you my favorite but then you’d be deprived of the surprise.

Lysette is running away. She refuses to marry the man her stepfather wants her to marry. Gaspard can beat her to death before she gives herself over to Etienne Sagesse. Her escape is thwarted at the river by two twin boys, the sons of Maximilien Vallerand. They bring her disheveled form before their father for punishment of attempted theft. Lysette is determined not to be sent back home and Max is drawn to her spunk. Even if he wasn’t, Max would never return Lysette to Etienne, his most hated rival.

Max uses Lysette to thwart Etienne and get the duel he’s been craving for nearly a decade. Etienne had slept with his late wife and murdered her. Of the first, Max knows for certain, of the second, Max is very sure, but lacking evidence. In fact all evidence of his late wife’s murder points to Max, the cuckolded and angry husband. Nobody believed Max’s protests of innocence, but the police let him off because of the circumstances. (Apparently killing a wandering and wild wife is completely understandable.)

When the excuse that Lysette is ill and can’t possibly go home turns into a real sickness Max nurses her through it. His mother protests his presence but gives in because she and the housekeeper alone can’t keep up their energies. During that time (3 weeks) he decides to make her his and as satisfying as it is to steal Etienne’s young bride, Max is going to find out how satisfied he can be… but can such satisfaction last?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: When Strangers Marry

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Review: Beyond Innocence by Emma Holly

guestreview

By: Marcia, guest reviewer

Taking place in Victorian England, Beyond Innocence is about loyalty to family versus being true to one self.

Edward Burbrooke is horrified to learn that his brother, Freddie, has been discovered, in the bedroom, with a footman, at a house party. He loves his brother and feels responsible for his ‘fall from grace’. When they were both young, their father died and Edward, now being the Earl of Greystowe, sent his sensitive younger brother to Eton, thinking it would be good for him. He assumed that Freddie could protect himself from hazing by older bullies. Marriage to a good woman would cure him and protect him from horrible scandal.

Florence Farleigh is the daughter of a recently deceased country Vicar. She is very short of funds and has come to London to seek a husband. Florence appeals to her father’s attorney, whom she has been told is very clever, to help her; unaware that Mr. Mowbry is also the earl’s attorney.

Edward decides that Florence is perfect for Freddie and, with his Aunt Hyptia’s help, strives to place them in close proximity. He does not plan to fall in love with her himself.

Emma Holly is a skillful writer treating her characters with kindness and sensitivity, but what makes this story really unique, are comic situations and erotic imagery that have a distinctly male point of view.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

If you would like to write a guest review for LRP, I would be happy to include you in this growing forum. It is the goal of LRP to share with readers recommendations, opinions, and reviews on romances. Your contribution would be greatly welcomed. Please see our guidelines for further information.

Groveling Heroes or Heroes Most in Need of Humble Pie

There’s a split in romance readers when it comes to the groveling hero. It’s a like or hate thing (as indeed most tropes and themes are). It comes down to preferences and point of views. For the purpose of this post I am going to define a groveling hero as a hero who gave a damn good apology for all his crap, not only as a hero who literally grovels at the feet of the heroine.

When is a good grovel needed?

I can think of a few scenarios and of course there’s plenty more but the one’s that jump out at me are unexpected virginity surprise scenarios which clue in a hero to a heroine’s innocence, big misunderstandings which show a lack of trust and faith in the heroine, and when a revengeful hero needs a good comeuppance.

A grovel scene is usually found at the end of a romance novel to tie up all the angsty elements with a big bow of love and forgiveness. In a good grovel, the scene is marked by a hero’s certainty he’s undeserving of forgiveness and a feeling of total devastation because of it.

Pros of the Groveling Hero:

  • Readers and heroine get to feel magnanimous which of course is a bit of an oxymoron because at the same time we’re/she is feeling self-righteous for we’ve known all along that the heroine is innocent.
  • Schadenfreude – a perfect word from the Germans to describe how we feel – we take immense pleasure in seeing the hero eat humble pie.
  • It takes big balls to own up to one’s faults, mistakes, and/or misbehavior. What’s more alpha than a hero unwilling to take the easy way out or to do something half-assed? No half measures for the groveling hero – he goes all the way.

Cons of the Groveling Hero:

  • The hero thinks any token apology clears his slate of all misdoing. There has to be a change in behavior and thought before a grovel/apology can truly mean something.
  • When it’s too little, too late. An apology is no longer enough. Sometimes there can be no forgiving. Sometimes the hero’s actions must remain unforgiven.
  • It’s seen by some as emasculating. My question for you today is where is the line between a heartfelt apology and a humiliating experience?

The 5 R’s of a Good Grovel:

  • Reveal – The moment the hero learns the truth about the heroine and/or situation.
  • Remorse – Immediate or soon coming emotional response to learning the truth.
  • Redemption – Actions the hero takes to fix things in himself and between them.
  • Respect – The actual act of apologizing and proving himself worthy is both a sign of respect and deserving of respect.
  • Restoration – The hero and heroine must return to a balanced and equal relationship.  Power isn’t simply displaced to the heroine.

Let’s Play a Game: Four heroes are put before you. Which in your opinion did a good grovel or needed to grovel more? They are: Captain Wentworth, Mr. Rochester, Henry Higgins, and Heathcliff.

Edward Cullen’s Forbidden Fruit: Twilight Perfume

Now available for purchase is the scent that drives Edward Cullen to distraction… that irresistibly forbidden fruit… the scent that is his own personal brand of heroin. He compares Bella’s scent to freesia and lavender in the first book on page 306. Freesia appears several times throughout the series; the more memorable moments being when he gifts her with freesia for her prom corsage (in the out takes) and as part of her wedding bouquet. If you haven’t read the scenes I’ve provided them below:

“Just because I’m resisting the win doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the bouquet,” he whispered. “You have a very floral smell, like lavender…or freesia,” he noted. “It’s mouthwatering.”

“Yeah, it’s an off day when I don’t get somebody telling me how edible I smell.”

© 2007 Stephenie Meyer

and

“Alice, Rosalie…thank you,” he breathed without looking away from me. I heard Alice chuckle in pleasure.

He stepped forward, cupping one cold hand under my jaw, and stooping to press his lips to my throat.

“It is you,” he murmured against my skin. He pulled away, and there were white flowers in his other hand.

“Freesia,” he informed me as he pinned them into my curls. “Completely redundant, as far as fragrance is concerned, of course.” He leaned back, looking me over again. He smiled his heart-stopping smile. “You are absurdly beautiful.”

© 2007 Stephenie Meyer

and

“Charlie, would you grab the flowers, please?”

Charlie returned with the two frothy white bouquets. The scent of roses, and orange blossom and freesia enveloped me in a soft mist.

© 2007 Stephenie Meyer

Did you know that nearly all flowers have a meaning associated with them? It comes from before the Medieval times, but was popularized in the Victorian times. Freesia, I have found, symbolizes innocence and trust. A more perfect flower could not be chosen to represent the pair. Edward put much importance on Bella’s innocence and trust in him. He especially did not want to corrupt her, in any fashion, with the demon inside him. It is therefore poetic that freesia also represents him–his innocence and trust in the newly formed bond between them, a love so strong it could withstand the trials of time.

The bottle reads: The forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest!
Size of Bottle: 2.7 fluid oz
Notes: I would be interested in getting the notes for this perfume. All I know is from the packaging which says it’s a combination of freesia and lavender. If you happen to know the specific notes please share!

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